Marseille Leave Bergen With A Win

Brann 0-1 Marseille

A Benoit Cheyrou first half strike will give French club Marseille a deserved advantage over Brann in the final round of qualifying for the Champions League...

A solitary goal from Benoit Cheyrou proved enough to guide Marseille to a 1-0 victory over Brann this evening. The French club were met with stubborn resistance by their hosts but were value for their narrow first leg advantage. Eric Gerets’ side controlled long periods of the first half while substitute Djibril Cissé hit the post late on for the side that finished third in the French league last season. Brann had their moments, Vaagan Moen hitting the bar in the final minute.

Marseille winger Hatem Ben Arfa described Saturday’s 4-4 draw with Rennes as “crazy” while club captain Lorik Cana and head coach Gerets were also unhappy with the manner in which Marseille lost a two goal lead and conceded twice in the final moments. The professionalism that l’OM lacked at the weekend was paramount if any serious impression was to be made on a Brann side buoyed by a large home support.

In the first half, Benoit Cheyrou was Marseille’s Burt Lancaster and Hatem Ben Arfa their Lee Marvin as the French side set about their opponents with determination and focus. For all their possession, of which Cheyrou was impressively dictating the rate and rhythm, there was a distinct lack of incision in the side.

Eric Gerets had elected to drop Djibril Cissé, indirectly causing Marseille to lose some of their width as Mamadou Niang stuck more rigidly to his role as centre forward.

The Norwegians were stereotypically robust, crashing into challenge with zealous enthusiasm and attempting to disrupt their guests at every opportunity. After less than 60 seconds, Cheyrou was left sprawled on the grassy carpet of the Brann Stadion following a crunching challenge from Huseklepp – a sign of things to come.

It would be Cheyrou, having recovered from his first minute trauma, who would have the first real effort on goal after ten minutes. This produced a routine save for Opdal, who had recovered from a knock sustained on Saturday to take his place in the Brann goal.

Marseille were being impressively kept at an arm’s length by their hosts. Ben Arfa had a long range effort that caused little discomfort for Opdal while Cana had a similar attempt. Even when Ben Arfa had appeared to have found a way through, breaking through numerous tackles with ease, he was denied as a home boot flew from nowhere to rob him of the ball.

Although they were pinned back into their own third, intent on defending for long periods of the first half, Brann were not entirely toothless. Efforts from Hanstveit, Dahl and Demba-Nyren forced out of Mandanda similar levels of saves to which their own goalkeeper had become accustomed to saving in the opening period.

But the visitors always looked on the verge of breaking through. When they did so, with just five minutes to spare before the interval, it was a goal worth waiting for. Ben Arfa gave the OM fans another taste of what they can expect from him as he displayed wonderful feet to beat three players in the box before teeing up Benoit Cheyrou to strike home his first goal of the season.

Having lost a key goal just after the pause on Saturday, Marseille were especially vigilant in Bergen. Just for a second, Karadas threatened to break the visiting lines but Hilton was supremely quick in sweeping up. Demba-Nyren then had a powerful strike on Mandanda's goal as the home side quickly broke.

Koné was causing continual problems down the flanks of the Norwegians but the effervescent Ivorian was often crowded out at the last moment or his final ball was cleared by a despairing limb. This was typical of what Marseille were up against. Niang sent a Taiwo cross wastefully wide from the penalty area as Opdal was left relatively untested in the opening parts of the second half.

And the hosts were gradually growing in confidence. Increased numbers were thrown into the Marseille half in the closing 15 minutes of play but Zubar and Hilton were imperious in the centre of the French club’s defence.

As their hosts committed men forward, Marseille had a growing number of chances to enhance their victory. A Ben Arfa free-kick rather feebly found the wall but Koné was quickly onto the rebound, cracking a strong shot into the arms of Opdal. The best late chance for the guests would fall to Cissé, however, the former Liverpool man’s shot took a slight touch on its journey to the post and, utlimately, wide.

When Mandanda made a late error to allow Henstveit a header at goal it seemed that Marseille’s lack of concentration at key times would again cost them. Thankfully for l’OM, the header drifted narrowly over their target.

Yet there would be another heart stopping moment for the French side as Peter Vaagan Moen’s free-kick in the final minute of normal time cracked off the top of their crossbar. The ball fell limply behind Mandanda's goal and Marseille were safe.

0-1 40' Cheyrou

Brann: Opdal; Hansveit, Dahl, Sigurdsson, Bjarnason; Moen (Saevarsson, 69'), El Fakiri, Bakke (Jaiteh, 52'), Huseklepp; Demba-Nyren (Winters, 74'), Karadas

Yellow Card: Jaiteh 83'

Marseille: Mandanda; Bonnart, Taiwo, Zubar, Hilton; Cheyrou, M'Bami, Cana (Kaboré, 46'); Niang (Cissé, 78'), Koné (Grondin, 86'), Ben Arfa

Yellow Cards: Niang 17', Cana 37'

40′ [0 - 1] B. Cheyrou

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Marseille Leave Bergen With A Win Reviewed by admin Ucop on 6:12 PM Rating: 5

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